- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Hay crops in Alaska’s interior are plentiful, but they have been dampened by record-breaking rainfall, providing few opportunities for harvesting.

It’s the second consecutive year that poor weather conditions have put a crimp in the interior hay crop, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://is.gd/PRJ4x5) reported.

Wet hay is susceptible to mold or fire, but farmers have to wait for the right moment to harvest it for storage.

“That was the trade-off - we had much better yields this year than we’ve had in many years,” said Phil Kaspari with the Cooperative Extension Service in Delta Junction. “It was frustrating for a lot of hay growers.”

A dry, hot summer last year hurt production, resulting with hay prices climbing for Alaska horse and livestock owners. This summer, prices are reflecting the problem with crops.

During normal years, the price of hay ranges from $200- to $300- per ton, according to Alan Tonne, who manages the University of Alaska Fairbanks experiment farm. He figures this year’s prices per ton could be in the $400 range.

“There’s hay out there,” he said. “You’re just going to have to pay more for it.”

Nadine Black of Diamond B Farm said the season so far has been terrible. She said much of the crops at the Delta Junction farm have been weighed down by water-saturated soil. The yield this year could be 250 tons, compared with as much is 400 tons during a good season.

Black said that after years as a hay farmer, she’s become philosophical about the struggles involved.

“This is never easy,” she said. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

Stuart Davies of Davies Farms believes a good fall harvest could offset a dismal cutting in June.

“We had bumper crops, with all this rain,” Davies said. “Last year we didn’t have anything.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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